Better Late Than Never: Blog Award Edition

 

As far as being late to the party, I’ve really done it this time. Over a month ago now (I think? I’m not even sure), the wonderful Ashley from Mental Health At Home nominated me for a Blogger Recognition Award. I was so excited! I put it on my mental task list to respond to…and then I promptly forgot.

Oops.

Then, the other day, Scarlett from from Scarlett’s BPD Corner nominated me for a Versatile Blogger Award. Seriously, every time someone does this I’m just overjoyed, because it’s great to feel recognized and appreciated.

Scarlett’s nomination reminded me that I’d never responded to my first one from Ashley. Maybe I could have let that slide, but I didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to give her a shout out, because Ashley has a spectacular blog filled with honest, uplifting and informative posts. Scarlett’s page is similarly awesome and genuine. If you haven’t already (since we as a community are pretty familiar with one another), check them out!

Better late then never right? So, without further ado:

Blogger Recognition Award

  • Thank the blogger who nominated you and provide a link back to their site.
  • Write a paragraph of something positive about yourself.
  • Nominate and notify as many bloggers as you wish.
  • Use the award image.

In thinking about the positive, which is something I’ve tried to do lately, I keep coming back to the fact that I just don’t give up. Lately, it feels like the hits just keep on coming. In the moment, I’ll get stressed and overwhelmed with the intense desire to move away, give up. Yet, each time I bounce back. I thought about this the other day as I walked into work, I felt anxious about walking into a teacher’s classroom to observe. I immediately was overcome with a need to flee, to avoid my responsibility. I processed the thought, and then calmly went into the classroom. I have a lot of intense feelings, a lot of intrusive thoughts, but I can overcome them. Each time, I come up with a solid, organized plan and fight back. Here I am, still fighting, after many years of feeling this way. I’m stronger than I typically give myself credit for. 

Nominees:

The Anxiety Chronicles

Lavender and Levity

Rubber Bands and Chewing Gum

Robyn’s Anxiety Blog

Her Patchwork Heart

Versatile Blogger Award

  1. Show your gratitude to the person who nominated you and provide a link back to the person’s blog.
  2. Give a brief story of your blog.
  3. Share two or more pieces of advice for beginner bloggers.
  4. Choose 10 other bloggers to nominate.
  5. Comment on each blog by letting them know they’ve been nominated and provide a link to your award post.

I recently posted the story of the beginning of my blog in this post. Instead of repeating that story, I want to tell a more recent story that relates to how having a blog has affected me. Earlier in the week, I decided to reach out to another blogging via email who I have been following a few months. I’d spent hours reading a bunch of her old posts, both because they resonated so strongly with me (I still can’t seem to believe how clearly other people can speak my own thoughts) and because it felt like a privilege to watch her grow over time in her posts. I was actually super nervous to reach out, because I’d never done that before! What if she thought I was creepy or didn’t respond? Anyway, she wasn’t creeped out! She responded with some extremely kind things and the exchange between us made me so happy. I was so glad that I had chosen to e-mail her.

I chose that story because it shows the gift that blogging has been to me. I wouldn’t have any that experience without my blog. I wouldn’t have gotten any of the kind, insightful support I’ve gotten from this community if I’d not started this blog.  To have someone tell me that my writing is beautiful, that they identify it, and that they are there cheering me on, brings me such immense comfort. To know that there are others out there that understand and are there as a support system  To that person, you know who you are, thank you for giving me that. On the days that blogging is difficult, you’ve given me a reminder of why I do this, and how it has helped me grow. 

Advice to bloggers:

  1. Write what you want to write. It’s not about what you think other people want to read, it’s about what you need to say. Your community will find you. This is your outlet, use it to find your voice. 
  2. Specifically to the mental health community: There are times when you may feel triggered by the writing of others around you. Even though you may want to read and support them, the topic of their post might evoke intense reactions for you. You are allowed to step away and take a break. You are allowed to take a writing break in general if you need to. 

Nominees

Revenge of Eve

The Bipolar Writer

Be Your Own Light

La Quemada

With Being Alive

A Pause, Not An End

Blogs From The Edge

Depression in a Poem

Inkblots and Icebergs

Braving Mental Illness

If you have already been nominated or are not interested, feel free to just not respond! No pressure at all. I can’t keep up with who has gotten a nomination already and who hasn’t. Either way, I think there’s so much benefit recognizing these bloggers for the the time and effort they put into their blogs.

Happy Blogging!

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Self-Love Challenge Day 20: Taking a Break

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Today has felt like an incredibly long and never-ending day.

Well, actually, this entire month has felt that way, but that’s beside the point.

My grandfather is back in the hospital again. I got a text last night from my mother that my uncle had to bring him, because he was having trouble breathing. I ended up leaving my friend’s house not long after that to go to the hospital to be with him. He is in heart failure and this terrible cough and inability to breath are the nasty side effects of a heart that isn’t fully capable of pumping like it should. I don’t know how long he will be there, but it’s bringing up all sorts of fears and worries.

In the school sphere, things don’t feel any calmer. If you’re a regular reader, you know I’m currently working on a year-long internship, which is the final leg in my graduate school program. To get my certification, one of my program requirements is to submit a portfolio that encompasses the knowledge and skills I’ve developed in my tenure as a graduate student. The other day, my supervisor and I sat down and mapped out which experiences I was going to use to satisfy the different domains. While being able to get his guidance lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, I realized that this added about 15 different mini-writeups to my task list. Yes, they are only 1-2 pages, but that’s 1-2 pages of well-thought out prose, which requires a lot of effort from my perfectionist brain.

To make it worse, my supervisor won’t shut up about how I should already be applying for jobs. Nevermind the fact that every time I even think about searching for job openings, I start to spiral into a an endless internal monologue of What if I’m not good enough what if I’m not good enough I’m definitely not good enough why am I even bothering. 

Remember my post from the other day about being so anxious that I’d ended up in the bathroom trying to breathe before it was even 9am? Well, that comment from him was essentially what put me there.

Earlier today, I had come home from a second trip to the hospital, having spent a few hours with my grandfather and trying to flag down the nurse long enough to get the facts about his condition. I had about two hours until I had to leave to babysit (for four kids…what was I thinking?!), and I planned on spending it getting organized. My hope was that if I could make a list of which assignments needed to be done, determine ‘goal’ dates to complete each thing, and then plug those into my March/April calendar, this portfolio would feel more manageable.

I had it all planned out in the car. Even though I was feeling sleepy, both because of going to bed late the night before and then having another disconcerting dream, I pushed this aside. Work is my top priority; no more being lazy. 

My stomach was bothering me, a dull ache sitting right in my gut and then occasionally radiating to my sides. I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but I am prone to kidney stones. The last stone I had started with 3 days of a stomachache, so now anytime I have pain in these areas I’m on high alert. As I sat with the pain, hoping it was just something I ate, I tried to ignore my worries. It’s another stone it’s another stone oh no not now I can’t deal with this. 

But no matter, I had so much to do. Nothing a heating pad can’t fix, right? I wrapped myself in a blanket, pressed a heating pad to my stomach, and tried to get to work.

Except my computer just wouldn’t stop freezing on me.

Mind you, my fossil of a computer is almost seven years old now. In Mac years, that’s essentially 100 considering the way Apple chooses to slow the software down with each update. Struggling with my computer’s glacial pace is not something I’m unfamiliar with, but when you add it to not feeling well physically and a mess of worries..

Well, that was about all I could take. I decided, for about the 30th time, that I’m going to get a new computer, and then talked myself out of it by remembering how much computers cost while also remembering that my car has been doing some funny things lately. And I can’t afford to have to replace/fix both.

So yeah, I was a little frustrated all around. I stared at my screen, willing the internet to load a little faster and begging Microsoft Word to just stop freezing already. 

At this point, I had to leave for babysitting in about 50 minutes, and I was feeling worse by the minute. I realized, even with the best of intentions, no work was getting done. And I knew if I continued on this path, I was going to be in no mental shape to watch four kids under 10.

So I took a nap. I cuddled up with the heating pad, played some instrumental music, and let myself have a break. It was a mental and physical break, and I think I really needed it. It gave me the ability to sustain myself long enough to get the kids to bed and even work on some of the stuff I wanted to get done. There’s still so much to go, but at least I had the energy to start.

It’s definitely worth knowing the moment when you’ve effectively hit your wall, and then making the choice to step back and give yourself the distance you need to recuperate. I’m glad I noticed that moment today.

Self-Love Challenge Day 19: A Better Place

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Ugh.

This post is going to tug at my heartstrings a little bit. It’s a topic I wasn’t sure if I wanted to write about, but I’m going to because I think changing the world comes with the difficult conversations.  Still, I understand if you don’t want to read it.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you know what happened last week at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. You know that 17 innocent people, mostly students, were killed at a high school by a former student with a challenging past and some severe behavior problems. Only a few weeks before that, two teenagers died after being shot at their school in Kentucky. There were the 10 that died in the shooting at an Oregon college in 2015, the 5 teenagers lost at high school shooting in Washington the year before.

There’s also Columbine. Virginia Tech. Sandy Hook. That last one was the worst for me.  I can still tell you every one their names and their faces haunt me like no other. Regardless, each time this happens, I always end up on the internet, reading their stories. Honoring their lives instead of giving attention to the perpetrator. So many occasions where children lost their lives in schools, just trying to learn and grow.

There are a lot of arguments about what needs to change for this to stop happening. People argue that our culture needs to change, that parents need to set more firm boundaries on technology, delay gratification, teach children to appropriately notice, express, and cope with their emotions. Others are vying for mental health reform, in having resources available and appropriate ways to screen. There are those that denigrate the media for the ways they glorify the shooter. Many more lobby for gun control.

This isn’t a post about gun control, so you can let out the breath you’re holding if you’re even still reading. I have opinions about that, but there’s a time and a place that does not include this post. In short, I think each one of those opinions is a piece of the puzzle, but that’s not the point.

Here is my point. If I’m lucky, next year I will hold a position as a full-fledged school psychologist. I will be at least partly accountable for the mental health and socio-emotional learning of a group of children or adolescents. To me, this is an extremely important responsibility. This is something that I want to do well or them.

I don’t know what the answer is to this epidemic of shootings and senseless loss of life. I don’t know how to stop it, in schools or movie theaters or concerts or churches. But I know that, for my group of kids, I want to espouse a practice in psychological safety and connectedness. I want social and emotional learning to be part of our school’s curriculum, to work with the kids to identify their emotions and help them regulate and help them relate to each other. To teach empathy and build self-esteem. To teach them how to resolve conflict in an appropriate manner.

Maybe, for some of these kids, that could be the only opportunity they have to practice these skills. School isn’t only about academics and especially in this day and age, it shouldn’t be.

If it’s not already something that exists, I want to model and cultivate a positive, accepting school climate that children can belong to and feel comfortable in. Have a list of school standards posted around the building. Recognize students who are demonstrating the prosocial, kind, generous, responsible behaviors we expect from them. Build a sense of community with events that foster school spirit.

You know what else I want? Behavior and mental health screenings. Are we reviewing data monthly and looking for patterns? Keeping an eye on discipline records and attendance? Are we aware of the risk factors for depression and keeping an eye out for students who might possess these risk factors? How to we prevent and respond to issues of bullying? Is there a place teachers can go to express their concerns?

I want to be trained in crisis response. I want others to be trained in crisis response. Prevention would be even better, but I want there to be a standardized protocol for responding to threats and risk. It is so, so important that we get it right because there are no do-overs when it comes to safety.

It sounds idealistic, doesn’t it? Naive. I know it does. It’s not going to stop some kids from still falling through the cracks. Yet I still feel compelled to do what I can. Whatever I can to help whoever I can.

There are many things that will work against my goals, I’m sure. Parents, staff, cost, time. My inexperience. Many other things I can’t even consider. Systems-level change takes eons, but I still want to at least try. Even it’s just a little bit at a time, a screening for anxiety or a group on social skills, I want to start somewhere. For those kids. I want their world, their educational community, to be a better place.

I know this post is supposed to be about the ways in which I’m currently making the world a better place, but I think this still counts because I’m thinking, all the time, about the ways in which I will try. I have to think about that, because otherwise I’m thinking about 14-year-olds dying in their classrooms, and that just sickens me in a way few things can.

I know there are many more hopeful school professionals out there that want to try too. Thank you to all of you who already are.

Anxiety Surge

I wish she was here.

I wish she was here today because it’s just the beginning of the morning and I’m already sitting in a bathroom stall coping with powerful anxiety.

I wish she was here because it’s supposed to be my day to be able to go and get this out. And my strategy for sitting with this, getting through it, would be a verbal reminder to myself that I only have to get through a few hours and then I could be in therapy and have my time to speak.

She’s not here, and I understand why, but it doesn’t dull how anxious I feel.

I’m trying to check in with myself and stay on top of it. What’s the thought? What’s the feeling? The feelings are anxiety and insecurity. The thoughts are what if I can’t handle this? What if I’m never able to apply job skills the way I’m supposed to? What if my personality flaws get in the way? How will I ever know everything I need to know and do everything I need to do? It’s too much for me. 

I’m trying to breathe, but the difficult stuff keeps on coming this morning. Questions I don’t have answers to. Comments I don’t know what to do with. Interactions with others that increase the intensity of my thoughts and feelings.

I’m so anxious, but I have to stuff it down inside and keep focus ahead. Keep moving. I’m expected to keep myself together and function.

It seems undoable today.

Self-Love Challenge Day 18: Saying ‘Thank You’ Instead of ‘I’m Sorry’

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In my quest for self-love, I’ve spent a lot of time talking about things I’m doing or working on doing to make me feel happier. Setting boundaries, staying off social media, asking for what I need, taking time to relax, meditating, eating better, indulging myself where I can. It’s all going…okay? Yeah, sure, it’s all going okay.

I have posts on each of these things already, so no point in rehashing. Instead, I wanted to focus on one small change I’m making that I’m hoping will have a good impact. And that is saying “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry.”

I’m not talking about apologizing when I’ve done something wrong. That would be a time when an apology makes sense. I’m talking about apologizing for literally any other reason.

The other day, as I sifted through different blog posts and was developing a list of common thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that J and I address in therapy, I was reminded of something that has been central to my challenges in life:a need to be reassured that things are okay between me and the other person after anything perceived as even a minor disagreement, and that they won’t abandon me.

As a result, I have this terrible habit of apologizing for pretty much every freaking thing I do. Maybe some of you might be familiar with the concept?

Case in point, I mentioned that in my last session with therapist I apologized to her repeatedly as I was pretty much shriek-sobbing, even though I couldn’t tell her why I was apologizing.

And why was I apologizing? It was less of a I’m sorry for a specific thing that I’ve done to purposefully hurt you and more of a I’m so sorry for being such a terrible burden and a complete mess, so I’m going to tell you that to make sure you still like me and know that I understand I’ve royally messed up and also please please don’t terminate me. 

My thought process is fairly logical, but not so functional. If I apologize, maybe you will not be mad at me. If I apologize, I can get back in your good graces. If I apologize enough, you won’t leave me. Sometimes I feel so compelled to apologize and no amount of telling me it’s okay will soothe me. I don’t believe you. So I keep going, again and again, because stopping makes me feel too tense. I feel like I must to compensate for how terrible I’ve been.

So these two little words have been a huge part of my life, and have contributed to the heaps of blame I place on myself. I’m always apologizing because I’m taking on the weight of everything, assuming it’s all my fault. I’m so unwilling to let myself off the hook.

That’s why I think it’s time to work on replacing those words with a simple thank you.

Instead of I’m sorry I’m so boring right now when hanging out with a friend, I can try thanks for spending time with me. 

Instead of I’m sorry for being so annoying when I’ve got questions for someone about an assignment, I can say thank you for providing such helpful answers. 

Instead of I’m sorry for being such a burden after confiding in another person, I can try thank you for listening to me and letting me speak honestly. 

Instead of I’m sorry I’m so needy and dramatic after someone bears witness to me in an emotional state, I can try, thank you for being there. 

Thank you is so much kinder to both of us. It shows the other person my recognition of their actions and my appreciation for our relationship, while it provides me with the permission to be boring, or have questions, or share my problems with a friend. Or otherwise known as the permission to be a human being.

Hopefully, this will reduce some of the stress that builds up throughout an interaction with a friend or colleague. I know that this desperate need for reassurance isn’t just going to go away, but I like to believe that showing healthy gratitude will be much more rewarding to me than inconsolable fear.

So I’m going to try it. Why not? It could be a huge step for me towards happier living. At the very least, maybe a conscious effort to say thank you will cure me of my Sorry Syndrome.

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Self-Love Challenge Day 17: Indulge Yourself

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This is probably going to be a relatively short post after the storybook I wrote yesterday.

I have to be careful when it comes to indulging myself, because I have a very impulsive and addictive personality. What might start as indulging myself with a piece of chocolate can escalate to eating the entire box if I don’t properly exercise willpower. Which can be super hard for me when it comes to food. And shopping! A few weeks ago, I bought 4 new figurines from this one designer that I love. It felt great in the moment and then when they came I felt guilty for spending the money.

So yeah, safe to say indulging isn’t always a good thing. I’m working on controlling my impulses, like for example by applying wait time between when I add something to my cart and when I actually purchase it because maybe I don’t need the entire DVD series of New Girl at this very moment. Which is helping.

But hey! I still indulge from time to time.

A few weeks ago, I was telling my therapist about how I was feeling down on myself for not doing all the ‘right’ things that I should be doing like eating better, going to the gym, and meditating. I felt like because I’ve been consistently failing to do these things, I wasn’t appropriately caring for myself and it was all my fault for not getting better.

That all sounds terrible, she replied, smiling. Like, I’m not kidding, all those things you listed actually sound terrible. Going to the gym? Eating healthy?  Ugh, makes me want to vomit. Of course you wouldn’t want to do that! 

I still laugh thinking about that. That’s for putting that one in perspective, J.

We decided that instead of being super critical of all the difficult things I wasn’t yet doing, we’d make those things long-term goals and work on me practicing self-care by doing things that “did not make us want to vomit.” My homework assignment for that week then became to go get my nails done, because I’d been wanting to for weeks but hadn’t set aside the time.

I always do my homework, even in therapy, so of course I did this one. The day after my session, I walked into the salon and chose this pretty sky blue color. I chatted with my nail technician about weekend plans and left satisfied. It was really nice. So worth the money and it did lift my spirits. My nails are growing out a bit, but my gel manicure still looking beautiful.

Sometimes I forget that taking care of yourself doesn’t only involve the challenging tasks that are “good for you” but also require herculean efforts to follow through on. It means a new outfit or some ice cream or getting your nails done. Those things help too, even if they are indulgent.

We survive a lot with our mental health, so we’re allowed these vices if we need them!

I encourage all of you to do something for yourself soon if you haven’t already. As a matter of fact, yesterday I spent my day off from work by getting brunch and a pedicure with a group of my friends (seems illogical to stop at a manicure). So that’s another case of appropriate indulging. Go, me!

A letter to get me through the therapy break

Dear J,

I’m writing this because…well, I’m not exactly sure why. I guess I’m writing this to you because I have a lot of conflicted feelings right now. I have a lot I wish we could talk about, except you’re away and we won’t be in the same place again for over a week.  So that leaves writing as just about my only option, doesn’t it?

Well, writing or sitting here with a dozen half-baked, anxious thoughts swimming around my head heading for a typical negative spiral. All things considered, I think I’ve chosen the better option.

When I say half-baked thoughts, I’m not kidding. I’ve already gotten at least 10 different unfinished thoughts written out below that I have to somehow figure out how to link together. This is why I think it can be so hard to quiet my thoughts sometimes, because they’re just floating around unattended to, trying to make sense of themselves, trying to connect to one another but always coming up short.

Does that make sense? Nevermind, I’m off-topic already.

In truth, I think I felt compelled to write this because I’m still processing what happened in session Thursday. It’s brought up a lot of different thoughts and feelings for me and I want to tell you about them.

First, I am not going to apologize again for the disaster our session was, even though I really want to. I’m not going to apologize because you said I have nothing to apologize for. Instead I’m going to say thank you. Thank you for bearing witness to my deepest pain and thank you for trying to understand the chaotic mess of my thoughts even though I was not making very much sense.

I am a little bit embarrassed by my behavior, and have had to sit with that, although it has not been as difficult I think it might have been in the past. I am trying, diligently, not to punish myself for having feelings. Feelings are okay, even negative ones. They are a part of being human. You’ve told me that. I believe you.

I’m also a little bit nervous about what it means for the next time we see each other. I wonder, will we talk about what happened? Should we? Should we just move on from it? Is there a right answer to any of these questions?  I try to tell myself things will be okay because you said they were and you said to trust you. I do trust you, as much as I can.

I think I’m holding onto some things that are making the trust part difficult for me, or at the very least are making me want to push you away when we’re together. That’s why I said during our last session something about our relationship being ‘different’ recently. It’s different because part of me is holding back, part of me won’t let myself connect and trust you completely.

I had this problem months ago and we talked then about why it might be happening. Things improved. As the resistance to fully trust has come up again, I chose to stay quieter and try to ignore it. It’s not working anymore. I am not always initially very transparent about what I’m thinking. I know that. You know that too, I’m sure.  I’m going to take the first step now in breaking myself of that habit by being as honest as I can about why that I believe is and how I want to try to overcome it.

On my end, I think my lack of trust and transparency about it comes at least partly from a place of needing reassurance that you care about me. My core belief is that if you ask, on your own, for me to tell you about whatever it is I’m holding back, it means to me that you truly want to hear what I have to say. It means you care about me as a person, not just a client, and are invested in my therapy too. It helps me connect with you a little easier, makes things feel less clinical. However, I have to speak up on my own and share something without any prompting or encouragement, then I am unable to fully trust that it was safe to do so. I can’t trust that you aren’t sitting there thinking Why do I choose to keep working with her? She’s crazy! Just listen to the things she is telling me!

These are cognitive distortions. I’m aware of that. And yet, they persist.

I know that you are not going to tell me straight up that you care about me, even though I really wish you would. Truthfully, I have a sense that you care, from the way you treat me and the things you say. From the fact that you have done things like let me see you for free when I couldn’t afford to pay and talk me through a panic attack over the phone and send me such a kind message after I wrote you that letter at Christmas. Things you didn’t have to do. Things that felt very special to me.

However, I also know that some of the beliefs I carry with me, no doubt part of my BPD, can overpower my ability to recognize that you care. The most central belief is this: People only care about me if they can read my mind and intuit my every need without my having to explicitly ask for it. The part of me holding onto that thought is the same part of me that will vilify you for not being attuned to my every need, not honing in on a specific topic that I’ve previously alluded to as critical, or not knowing when to when to push me and when to back off. That’s the part of me that thinks you only see me as a paycheck; a neurotic, needy paycheck.

Although it wasn’t completely a conscious effort, I know I have been unfair in expecting you to navigate all of my subtle needs without error. I know that it is inaccurate to assume that failure to read me perfectly means failure to care. I know that I am projecting on you the same beliefs I have in every other relationship I’ve ever had.

Which is how I know this is so important.

We have had conversations before where I expressed a desire for you to push me to talk about certain topics, and then when said topic comes up a week or a month later and you don’t, I am disappointed. She didn’t remember. See? She doesn’t care, I end up thinking to myself and then decide to withdraw a little bit.

In reflecting on this, I think that maybe it’s my job to be more direct with you in the moment. I think there could be benefit in being able to tell you clearly what I’m thinking and what I need instead of alluding to that need and desperately hoping you notice. To be able to articulate if something you are saying does not feel useful or like something I can hear at that moment. To be able to articulate what might be more helpful. To be able to tell you if I need you to push me to keep talking versus if I need for you to pause and give me some time to reflect.

I think that I really would like to work on practicing asking for what I need from you. I’m hoping that successfully advocating for myself and then having my needs respected or validated will teach me to take care of my own needs and also fulfill my desperate need to feel like you care too. I’m hoping I can generalize this outside your office, to other areas in my life.

Asking for what I need can be scary. The last time I tried to do that here, with the self-harm conversation, I felt like things imploded between us very quickly. I could sense that you were confused or angry or hurt or something in the camp of a negative emotion. And so now I’m afraid to ask for things. I’m afraid I’m not going to express myself clearly or that I will say something in an accusatory, demeaning manner. Worst case, I fear it turns into another conflict between us. I really really do not want that.

I’m literally so afraid that what I just said is another example of me framing something in a poor way and will result in us devolving into a disagreement because of it.

Yet I’m still writing. Trusting you.

I need you to remember that recognizing what I need in the moment and asking for it both clearly and directly is a huge struggle for me. The words do not at all come naturally to me. Even when they do, speaking induces so much anxiety that I am often paralyzed by it andcan no longer find my words. They get twisted, jumbled.

Even though you say we can survive conflict, I fear I’m going to mess up our entire relationship if I say something wrong. I worry about this in my other relationships too, except with greater fear because I don’t have the safety net I have with you.

I’m asking you to help me with this, all of it. If anything is going to be a theme in our work together, this should be it.

Even as I write, my mind is fighting me and telling me to just scrap this letter now because nothing good will come from it. I’m scared to talk about this. Lately, I wonder constantly if it is smart idea to bring up different thoughts that are on my mind because when we had that last conflict (maybe you wouldn’t characterize that as a conflict? I don’t know what else to call it), you said that thing that won’t leave my head:“Well, do you have to tell me about everything?”

Bringing that up again feels like I’m criticizing you. That’s not my intention. I’m choosing to talk about it because that comment really stuck with me, in the worst way. It has made me censor myself more than ever. Since then, I’ve mentioned the comment once or twice, hoping you’d get the hint that we need to talk about it. We haven’t, so I’m going to say directly that I need us to talk about it. 

I need us to talk about it so I can understand your intention behind saying it and maybe it can stop replaying in my head every time I want to bring something to you.  I need to know that it wasn’t you telling me that you don’t want to hear what I have to say or that you want me to keep things concealed. Even with all the evidence I have to refute that belief, I’m still having trouble reconciling it on my own.

In a similar vein, I need you to tell me that you are not leaving me. I know I’ve asked for this before. I’m probably going to keep asking, because when my internal reassurance wears thin all I’m left with is blinding fear of abandonment. People have always left, not able to take who I am, and it’s terrifying to think you will be one of them.

I had a lot of extremely intense feelings during our last session and many of them did not feel safe for me. I actually think that I shut down and disassociated for a large chunk of that time, because I heard and remember very little of what you were saying to me and did not feel very present in the room. It was new experience for me. It was confusing.

It was just another thing that made me wonder if my challenges require too much, maybe more than you can provide me.

I worry, sometimes, that we’ve gone as far as we can together. I worry that I will go too far, share too much, or lose my shit like I did in our last session and you will decide you do not feel you are equipped to meet my needs. That I am beyond your help. I worry that the extremeness of my being is too much for you. I worry I will burn you out or make you hate me because I can be so difficult.

So I need to hear from you again that you’re still here. I need you to be willing to say that you are in it for the long haul, when I ask you to, it as many times as it takes.

Unless you’re not. Then I guess we need to have a conversation about that.

Similarly, I wonder if you might be willing to be more transparent with me too, about where you think we are on this journey? Are there times you have felt challenged by our relationship? Do you have goals for me? Do you ever think that my needs are beyond what you have the capacity to handle?

The last time you shared your perspective with me, it was very helpful. I think that there could be benefit in hearing how your perspective has changed, or not, since then.

I know I have said a lot and asked for a lot. It took me almost three hours to get it all down, so I can imagine it’s a lot to process. But I hope that we can break it down and address what’s important. I hope maybe this letter can be a window into my thought process and could guide where we can go next in our work. Maybe it’ll help us both avoid having another session like the last one.

At the very least, I’ve taken the risk of being super honest with you and I can give myself credit for that, knowing we will work through whatever comes our way next.